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HomeOpinionColumnHow did Democrats become an endangered species in Kentucky?

How did Democrats become an endangered species in Kentucky?

By: Keith Kappes
Carter County Times

If you drive past the East Carter Memory Gardens cemetery these days, you may hear a whirring sound coming from the top of the hill.

If so, it likely will be my grandfather spinning in his grave because of the recent shocking news that Republicans now outnumber Democrats on the voter registration rolls of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

When Grand-dad passed away nearly 50 years ago, the idea of Kentucky becoming a Republican-controlled state was laughable. That, of course, was long before CNN convinced us to call them red and blue states.

In 1974, Democrats held strong majorities in both houses of the Kentucky General Assembly.  All of our state constitutional officers were Democrats. Five of our seven congressmen were Democrats. Our only Republican senator in Washington lost his seat to the Democratic governor that fall.

In many parts of the Bluegrass State in those days, especially Eastern and Western Kentucky, many races went uncontested when potential GOP candidates realized they were badly outnumbered at the polls and that Democrats historically were loyal to their party.

My grandfather was a Democrat all of his adult life and encouraged his children, grandchildren, and friends to make the same choice. He believed that FDR saved America with the New Deal and that Democrat-led government should always protect the “common people” from “big money” Republicans.

Grand-dad loved the story about the old man who summoned his oldest son to his deathbed and asked him to go to the courthouse with a note to change his voter registration to Republican.

When the son protested because of his father’s lifelong status as a Democrat, the old man responded:

“Hell, son, we know someone is going to die here tonight and it might as well be a Republican”.

My grandfather probably never dreamed that we Democrats would someday be accused of not being religious or patriotic or committed to family values or in favor of the Bill of Rights.

If he had such a vision, he likely would have asked how and why did Kentucky turn the asylum over to the inmates.

Keith Kappes can be reached at keithkappes@gmail.com



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